The New Year is an Existential Crisis.
I mean right? By and large, it feels like the New Year celebration can be a pretty rough go. Because it’s such a poignant marker of time — long enough to capture significant trends but short enough to be readily remembered — it can’t help but make us reflective not only about where we’ve come in our last year, but also where we are in the span of our lives. In between the outfit planning and sparkly décor hunting, we start thinking about our age, our career, our personal development, the meaning of life… You know, casual things like that.
Comparison is also huge in popularity this time of year — I mean it’s always pretty popular, but as the year turns it’s like we don’t even pretend anymore. We start wondering “Am I doing as well as is to be generally expected at this stage of life?” Or more accurately, “Am I at least not doing worse than is to be generally expected at this stage of life?” It’s rough man. Behind the glitter and twinkle lights lies a well of deep and valid emotion.
Though I understand the impulse to call the New Year celebration overrated, I’m not sure that it is. We put too much pressure on it and ourselves, for SURE (and that whole “kiss at midnight” tradition can honestly burn in the depths of hell). But I think it makes sense for the New Year to hold importance for us — where we go left is trying to judge ourselves and our lives by it. If I haven’t hit this life marker by the New Year — if I haven’t gotten married, made huge strides in my career, kicked that bad habit — I have depreciated in value, it means I’m not good enough.
But none of that is true. This is where I feel like the yogic mantra “observation without judgment” is practical. We can take note of where we are, where we’ve been, and appreciate it without judgment. Without placing unreasonable demands on ourselves for the next 12 months. And once the dust of the New Year settles, it gets a little easier to wade through the overwhelm. We get our feet back under us and the New Year becomes more about each new day in front of us rather than the vast, expansive, impending 364.
The new year is a mindfuck, that’s pretty self-evident, but I’ve found journaling to be helpful in staying present. “What am I feeling today? What do I need to do today.” Bit by bit is the only way to get through it. And then maybe next year we can look back and appreciate that we did our best to really live into each moment of 2018.